Over the years I’ve been in enough hunting camps to hear almost all the “old wives’ tales” you can imagine (and most of them told not by “old wives,” but “gun guys”). Sometimes people really believe these old saws about hunting, sometimes they are just excuses, and sometimes people will say them to get a rise out of others. These are a few that I’ve heard that my own experiences have thoroughly disproven—in fact, they actually turned out terrific.
You Cannot Call a Turkey Up/Down a Hill
I’ve heard this more times than I can count, and although it may be more difficult to call turkeys up and down a hill, sometimes they’ll use the hill to their advantage and pitch right down to you! Last year my husband and I were turkey hunting in a blind and could see three toms strutting on a hill about 1,000 yards off. Every time we’d call they’d just strut back and forth. They appeared uninterested … but finally they couldn’t take it anymore, and all three pitched off that hill to our setup only 25 yards away from our decoy spread.
Don’t Touch the Horny Toad
First, a horny toad is actually a horned lizard—a reptile. Also, it cannot give you warts. Furthermore, there are no amphibians that give you warts. Every time we hunt Colorado, our dog Pork Chop has a keen ability to find these little lizards. Although they can’t give you warts, they can gross you out: A crazy fact that many don’t know is they will actually shoot blood from their flooded sinuses and out their eye sockets in a final defense when threatened by predators.
Hunting on Friday the 13th is Bad Luck
Although there are many people who are superstitious about doing much of anything on Friday the 13th, I can attest that this can be a great day to hunt! The fact of the matter is when Friday the 13th falls in September or November, there is almost a 100 percent chance I’m going to be hunting. In September this falls during the elk rut, and in November it falls during the whitetail rut. For people who want to pass on this day, that’s fine, but I can assure you I’ll be out hunting! My standout example is the Friday the 13th I hunted with Ben Bearshield in South Dakota some years ago. We decoyed in a mule deer, and Ben is now my husband … so I guess Friday the 13th works out pretty terrific in some cases!
Small Bucks Don’t Rub on Big Trees (Or Vice Versa)
I love monitoring deer activity with trail cameras, and I have put cameras up on both big and small rubs. The variety of bucks that use the rubs is truly amazing. There is zero reason to believe only certain size deer make certain size rubs, according to my trail cam photos over the years. What I have found is that when you find a rub, you should get a camera on it right away—it’s a great way to inventory bucks in your area!
The other great thing about rubs is if you don’t know where bucks rub, you can always make your own rub post. We use a cedar post, dig a hole about 18 inches deep, then put the post in the ground, using a tamping bar to pound it in nice and tight. Tthen we add a licking branch to the top. As you can see in the photos, so many deer rub on it that there is actually a pile of shavings under the post by late November.
Full Moons are the Worst Time to Hunt
Most people don’t have the luxury of picking their exact time period to hunt, so when the time comes up, don’t look for excuses. I’ve hunted during the “super moon” several times, when it’s so bright there is a shadow on us as we walk out, however I’m still putting in the time and hoping for the best. You should, too, and here’s why.
Marcus Lashley of North Carolina State University compiled more than 22,000 GPS-collared deer to compare their activity to moon phases. He found they moved the most at dawn and dusk, regardless of moon phase. However, he did detect a slight increase in midday deer activity during full moons. I’m no scientist but I can tell you that most of my big bucks have been taken during the noon hour. I’m a firm believer in sitting all day and I have the experiences to prove this is a smart way to hunt. In fact, regardless of whether the deer are getting up to move based on moon phases or not, I’ve often thought it could be from other hunting pressure. Think about it: Most hunters leave midday to eat lunch and take a break. If a good percentage of people are leaving their stand, stirring up the deer, I’ll be the one who stays on stand and waits for the big bucks to move into my area.
Miss a Buck and It’s All Over
The most important thing you can do with a miss is not let that deer know you are there. Often, if you don’t make any sudden movements, they will calm down … especially when you’re hunting over a decoy. I’ve had three separate instances where I missed a buck on the first opportunity while hunting over a decoy and was granted a second shot.